Sequel to the quest of demanding accountability and exposing various forms of wrongdoing in Nigeria, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in collaboration with the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), flagged off a Radio Town Hall Meeting on Whistle-blowing and Whistle-blower Protection.
The maiden episode of the 8-week radio program was held Friday in Abuja, where participants discussed under the title:
Five Years of Whistle Blowing Policy in Nigeria; What Citizens Need To Know.
An Assistant Director, Special Investigation and Assignment, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), Johnson Oludare described whistleblower policy as a valuable instrument, and means of disclosing wrongdoings in an organization to the authorities.
He disclosed that plans are at an advanced stage by the government to send a bill to the National Assembly to strengthen the policy.
Oludare noted the whistle-blower policy has been a tremendous tool towards fighting corruption, hence, the government has made quite a number of recoveries of assets and money through the policy in Nigeria since four years of its existence.
He added that the whistleblower policy is aimed at tackling: corruption-related offenses; violation of integrity and ethical standard, bribery, fraud, and embezzlement.
Oludare who decried poor involvement of citizens in whistle-blowing activities stressed that Nigerians wield enormous power in the anti-corruption fight through whistle-blowing but the culture of silence was now hampering the success of the policy.
He, however, encouraged Nigerians to report wrongdoings but must blow the whistle in good fate.
On his part, Convener, Say No Campaign, And Executive Director, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center in Africa, Ezenwa Nwagwu, revealed that whistle-blower policy is not enough to protect Nigerians who disclosed wrongdoings unless a bill is passed in that regard.
“There is a need to clearly make it a point to the National Assembly that they (National Assembly) have a role to play here.”
On citizens’ involvement in the anti-corruption fight, he said, “When citizens understand the consequences of corruption then nobody will be induced or encouraged to blow the whistle.
“There are cases of those who have been victimized by their organization. Some people have been sacked and they are in court today. So we need to widen the conversation beyond whistle-blower policy, we need to have a law, Nwagwu said.
According to Project Advisor and Lead, Vivian Bello, the federal government has achieved a lot through the whistleblower policy but not enough for comfort, lamenting that people who blow the whistle are still being persecuted and not protected.
For women, Bello called for active support in terms of infusion of gender consideration in the expected whistle-blowing legislation.
“A lot of women have not picked up their gauntlet in blowing the whistle, I think there are still a lot of gaps in the policy, and I expect the coming legislation to accommodate factors that relate to women for their protection, ” She said.
On his part, a Public Affairs Analyst, Majeed Dahiru stated that whereas the whistle-blowers are very key, they cannot do the job without the leaders marching their words with action in the fight against corruption.
His words: “I’m sure there are reports of whistle-blowing that are not being attended to; this has continued for a long time and there is no real political will to fight corruption in Nigeria.
For a country like Nigeria where corruption is rife, what we need is more than whistle-blowing.
“We need to redefine and re-categorize the fight against corruption.
“There are tools that bolster corruption in Nigeria, they include; nepotism, sectionalism, cronyism.
“These are the blocks of corruption and we must sound the trumpet against them,” Dahiru stressed.
The Radio Town Hall meeting Series will initially run for eight weeks and alternate weekly between Raypower 100.5 FM, Abuja, and 99.9 Kiss FM Abuja.
It is a collaborative effort between AFRICMILL and PRIMORG, aimed at increasing citizen’s active participation and involvement to encourage the government to institutionalize the whistle-blowing policy.
The project is supported by Macarthur Foundation.
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